While a federal judge in Texas last week set aside the requirement to pay exempt employees at least $47,476 per year, nothing has changed about the duties tests for exempt employees, and that is where many employers get into trouble. Under the old rules (which are new again), the Department of Labor was collecting $140 million per year for overtime violations.
So even though the judge’s injunction has relieved you as an employer from the obligation to pay your managers almost $50,000 per year, you still have to be vigilant that you are paying salaries only to those employees who actually are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act based on the duties that they perform.
Determining that an employee is exempt from the overtime rules and can be paid on a salary without reference to the number of hours worked each week by that employee has always been a two-step process:
- The employee you have designated as a manager, professional or administrative worker must be paid at least $23,660 per year. This is the amount that was in effect before the new rule and the judge’s injunction, which returns us to the status quo of $23,660 per year ($455 per week). But unlike the new rule, bonuses cannot be used to get the exempt employee to that amount. So you have to pay the salary of $23, 660, and,
- The employee you are calling exempt must perform certain duties to legally be considered exempt. These duties tests have tripped employers up for years, long before the salary increase was even proposed. And now that the salary increase has been enjoined, your focus as an employer should be back on these duties tests to determine if you really can pay an employee as an exempt, salaried employee without worrying about overtime.
So, in addition to making at least $23,660 per year, your exempt employee must pass all of the duties tests for at least one of the following categories if you want to claim that you don’t have to pay overtime to that particular employee:
Executive Employees Duties Test:
- The employee’s primary duty (the most important duty and the one that takes up a significant amount of his/her time) must be the management of a customarily recognized department or subdivision (such as a stand-alone store). Management includes the hiring, training, scheduling, disciplining and supervising of employees and/or the planning and controlling of the budget, workflow, safety and compliance of a department; and
- The executive employee must customarily and regularly direct the work of at least two other full-time employees (not full-time equivalents), and
- The executive employee has the authority to hire and fire other employees, or at least the executive employee regularly makes recommendations that are relied on in the determination of an employee’s hiring, promotion, firing.
Learned Professional Duties Test: Continue reading Don’t Forget About the Duties Tests for Exempt Employees